DURBAN: 281211 Mike Sutcliffe preparing for his last day in the office as his contract come to an end on the 31 of December 2011. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE

An “old boys’ club” still operates within eThekwini Municipality, ensuring that only certain companies get certain projects, claims outgoing eThekwini city manager Mike Sutcliffe.

In a wide-ranging final interview exclusively with the Daily News before he leaves office on Friday, he said mechanisms had been implemented recently to flush out senior managers who collude with certain outside companies in the procurement process.

“Historically there has always been an old boys’ or girls’ club in operation and they will continue to do so, but we have introduced closer monitoring systems and we should start seeing turn around as a result.

“How the old boys’ club works in the municipality is that where there is procurement under R200 000, it requires three quotes to be submitted,” said Sutcliffe.

“Certain senior managers work in collusion to ensure that the project goes to a certain group of companies who take turns in getting the different projects.

“We have now introduced an electronic mechanism that will flag this and a system of closer monitoring of individuals so that the system will pick up if a senior manager is consistently awarding contracts to the same companies.”

The revelation of the existence of the old boys’ clubs comes amid an investigation into the municipality’s financial and procurement process which is nearing completion.

However, Sutcliffe, who has spent an SA record of nine years as city manager, said he was unfazed by the investigations, adding that they would prove what he had said all along – that the municipality had not followed all procedures to ensure it delivered housing at an unprecedented scale.

“Let’s not confuse this with corruption. Financial irregularities do not automatically mean there is fraud. Where corruption is proved, let’s expose this.

“As much as I say there are still old boys’ clubs operating within the municipality, I have also never said there is no corruption because that would be a stupid thing to say.

“We operate with a R30 billion budget and on that scale there will be attempts at fraud and corruption. Every week, for example, we have cases of metro police asking for bribes, and every single case leads to people being fired or convictions.

“Where we have issues of proven corruption or fraud, we have acted on these as we are with the old boys’ clubs that exist.”

On his future plans, Sutcliffe declined to give details, saying he was considering a few options. However, one thing for sure is that he will remain in Durban.

“I love this city and have no plans to leave it,” he said.